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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

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The Heptones: Sweet Talking (Studio One)

The Heptones: Sweet Talking (Studio One)

Produced by the legendary Clement Dodd and fronted by the sweet voice of Leroy Sibbles, the Heptones were one of the great Jamaican vocal trios who brought in soulful harmonies borrowed from 50s bands like the Drifters. This 18-track collection of mid-60s tracks (most in stereo remixes not previously released on CD) includes their covers of...

LEE SCRATCH PERRY IN THE 90s: Getting dub'n'reggae through time tuff

LEE SCRATCH PERRY IN THE 90s: Getting dub'n'reggae through time tuff

By the early 90s - a decade on from the death of Bob Marley - the consciousness reggae movement he headed was floundering internationally. In New Zealand, where reggae is one of the bloodlines, it was disappearing from radio and aside from well attended appearances by Judy Mowatt and Ziggy Marley concerts it really was “time tough,”...

Dub Asylum: Ba Ba Boom! EP (www.dubasylum.co.nz)

Dub Asylum: Ba Ba Boom! EP (www.dubasylum.co.nz)

If I've been tardy getting to this terrific EP of beats, hip-hop meets reggae culture, and much more it's that I have been so busy backloading the archives. But let it be said that in downtime from that seemingly endless - but endlessly enjoyable - task I have been cranking these five tracks up way, way loud. Largely the sole project of...

DAMIAN MARLEY INTERVIEWED (2006): Maintaining the family standard

DAMIAN MARLEY INTERVIEWED (2006): Maintaining the family standard

The most common complaint from those who have stardom thrust upon them -- the tabloid coverage and paparazzi, the private chef serving you rather than some kid on minimum wage -- is that nothing prepares you for this life. Okay, it’s tough at the top -- it’s not that easy at the bottom however -- and no, you can’t go to...

Dub Colossus: A Town Called Addis (Real World/Southbound)

Dub Colossus: A Town Called Addis (Real World/Southbound)

Bridging dub, world music, an ethnomusicology project and with a smattering of jazz, this project by UK musician/producer/remixer Nick Page who is Dubulah, aka Dub Colossus (and co-founder of the groundbreaking Trans-Global Underground then Temple of Sound) brings to attention the wonderful music of Ethiopia, but in a very different light....

BURNING SPEAR INTERVIEWED (2000): Still tending his crop

BURNING SPEAR INTERVIEWED (2000): Still tending his crop

Burning Spear lets go a deep, resonant laugh which starts as a chuckle then becomes increasingly full-throated. Savour that moment, it's the only break in his gravitas during this friendly, respectful conversation. Burning Spear - aka Winston Rodney - is the conscience of reggae, keeper of the flame of its roots, and the music's most...

DubXanne: The Police in Dub (Echo Beach/Yellow Eye)

DubXanne: The Police in Dub (Echo Beach/Yellow Eye)

This is how I like my Police. Without Sting. As with that yelping guy in Yes and few others, I find Sting's voice very hard to take. Although I concede that when I consider their album sales (45 million and rising) as well concert ticket sales I am in a very small minority. So be it. Always quite liked the music, rarely liked Sting's...

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

The first thing to note about this new album by producer/dubmeister Tom Bailey is that there are 12 tracks. No noodling around or nodding off going on here, Bailey doesn't let any groove outstay its welcome. And throughout Bailey also adds in interesting elements to keep your attention: Is that a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of Eighties...

GWEN STEFANI of NO DOUBT INTERVIEWED (2001): Style and substance

GWEN STEFANI of NO DOUBT INTERVIEWED (2001): Style and substance

The fact is, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt looks even more gorgeous lounging casually on the couch opposite than she does in her carefully styled photo shoots.  While her magazine image is often that of a distant, pouting, sexually empowered ice-queen -- "Glamazon" is the new description -- in real life she glows naturally, laughs...

The Skatalites: Anthology (Primo/Southbound)

The Skatalites: Anthology (Primo/Southbound)

This 35-track double disc pulls together essential Skatalite material alongside work that appeared under the names of some the group's members (Rolando Alphonso, Baba Brooks, Don Drummond, Tommy McCook) and is a primer on the sound of Jamaican ska in the mid Sixties. The rhythm might be the choppy ska style but over the top you can hear the...

Willi Williams: Right Time (year unknown, mid 70s?)

Willi Williams: Right Time (year unknown, mid 70s?)

Reggae singer/writer Willi Williams is best known as the man who gave the world Armagideon Time which the Clash covered (and which appears on the Tougher Than Tough collection) -- and many other deep roots reggae songs. Always well connected, Williams first worked at Studio One in the mid Sixties, recorded with Jackie Mittoo in Jamaica and...

Managers: The Grove St Tapes (Hoi)

Managers: The Grove St Tapes (Hoi)

While it's hardly a tabloid heading -- "Ska band in reggae shock!" -- it is something of a surprise to hear Auckland's long-running and popular live act shift from upbeat ska to downbeat reggae grooves on this four track EP of originals cut from the same cloth as roots reggae of four decades ago. Singer Paul Frewin has a smooth...

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

The bassist with Hamilton reggae band Katchafire, Ara Adams-Tamatea, said it: "You go to parties now and they are still playing the same '70s Bob albums 20 and 30 years later. Why is that? Because Bob's message is still alive and the things he was singing about are still relevant." The Bob in question is dread rebel Bob Marley,...

Dub Spencer and Trance Hill: Riding Strange Horses (Echo Beach/Yellow)

Dub Spencer and Trance Hill: Riding Strange Horses (Echo Beach/Yellow)

Those who know their spaghetti westerns and love a bit of dubbery will welcome this new installment from the Swiss band Spencer/Hill (aka bassist Marcel Stalder, guitarist Markus Meier, keyboard player Philipp Greter and drummer Julian Dillier). Opening with Ennio Morricone's harmonica theme (from For a Few Dollars More, I think?) and then a...

JUDY MOWATT INTERVIEWED (1990): The black queen arises

JUDY MOWATT INTERVIEWED (1990): The black queen arises

Judy Mowatt wears her unofficial title “the queen of reggae" easily. A striking figure of regal bearing, she holds her head high, and, as a member of The Twelve Tribes of Israel, talks as easily about the Queen of Sheba in ancient times as she does about Yellowman, and DJ dancehall stars in Jamaica today – and shows a canny...

ERNEST RANGLIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Ska pioneer

ERNEST RANGLIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Ska pioneer

What becomes a legend most? In the case of Ernest Ranglin, good humour and modesty. This legend of Jamaican singlehandedly created ska back in the Fifties; recorded the young Bob Marley; arranged Millie Small’s international hit My Boy Lollipop in 64; enjoyed a jazz career in London, New York and Florida; and in the early-to-mid...

JAMDOWN, a film by EMMANUEL BONN (MVD DVD)

JAMDOWN, a film by EMMANUEL BONN (MVD DVD)

This unfocused and largely haphazard film -- part travel footage, part film of reggae artists, some political subtext hinted at -- dates from 1980 when French filmmaker Bonn took a camera to Jamaica and the streets of black Britain. There is considerable footage where the camera is looking out the window of a vehicle which travels though the...

THE DREAM GOES ON: Bob Marley's enduring influence, in jazz and elsewhere

THE DREAM GOES ON: Bob Marley's enduring influence, in jazz and elsewhere

Twenty years after the death of its high priest, reggae still informed the vocabulary of music. Reggae had so thoroughly infiltrated pop, rock, hip hop and electronica, we hardly noticed it any more. Still don't. And if it isn’t in the music itself – the bass lines, off-accent drumming, choppy guitars – then it's in...

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires: Elizabethan Reggae (1969)

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires: Elizabethan Reggae (1969)

Long before the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra of the late Eighties/early Nineties, Jamaican musicians were appropriating classical music and turning it around over ska and reggae rhythms. The provenance of this particular hit is perhaps a little muddied: it is variously attributed to (singer/bassist) Boris Gardiner of the Upsetters, and also...

Delroy Wilson: Mash Up Illiteracy (1974)

Delroy Wilson: Mash Up Illiteracy (1974)

In Third World countries music is often the vehicle for social messages and political comment because it gets directly to people who may be unable to read a newspaper or otherwise have access to information. Reggae singer Delroy Wilson (who died in '95) was one of those who used songs to actually say something . . . although not always so...

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

You could almost understand Kay Starr singing Rock and Roll Waltz as the waters around her rose in the Fifties. Her style was being swamped by the likes of rockabilly and rock'n'roll, so she was probably just trying to keep her head above water. But quite why the Maytals would have wanted to lean towards disco for this single when reggae was...

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

SLY DUNBAR INTERVIEWED (2003): Pull up to the drummer, baby

Silly question maybe, but you have to start by asking drummer Sly Dunbar -- one half of the legendary Sly'n'Robbie rhythm section alongside bassist Robbie Shakespeare -- what he's been up to lately. In the past couple of years the formidable Riddum Twins have played on No Doubt's career-reviving Rock Steady album, shared equal billing...

Nyabinghi chanters: Got to Move (1982)

Nyabinghi chanters: Got to Move (1982)

In 1935, just before the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, an article apeared in the Jamaica Times -- penned by an Italian fascist propoganda outfit -- which alleged that Ethiopia's Haile Selassie was the head of a secret organisation which was plotting to overthrow and kill whites. This alarmist article about the "Nyabingi Order" (the...

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live Forever (Universal)

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live Forever (Universal)

Some albums are accorded greater cachet because of the circumstances of their creation. Does anyone really think George Harrison would have won a Grammy for his instrumental Marwa Blues if he had been around to collect it? That was a vote driven by sentiment -- and probably regret and embarrassment that his contribution to music post-Beatles...

Bunny Wailer:Amagideon/Armagedon (1976)

Bunny Wailer:Amagideon/Armagedon (1976)

As Bob Marley was advancing a more light-filled, if still serious, face of Rastafarianism into the world, it fell to deep roots groups like Culture, the great Burning Spear and Bob's old bandmate in the original Wailers, Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer) to deliver the darker and deeper themes. The mighty Spear sang as if he had just been...

Ziggy Marley: Wild and Free (Tuff Gong)

Ziggy Marley: Wild and Free (Tuff Gong)

After a faltering start with the Melody Makers, Ziggy (now 42) uncoupled his music from overly familiar reggae rhythms and incorporated African sounds, hooked up with rap artists, kept a political agenda and all the while didn't veer too far from his father's path and sometimes the classic sound. Here his collaborators include Woody...

Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost (1975)

Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost (1975)

In Ted Bafaloukos' '78 film Rockers -- a lightweight comedy but excellent quasi-doco about the world of Jamaican music with a stunning cast of reggae luminaries -- there are any number of remarkable scenes: the lead character is a drummer (played by Leroy "Horsemouth" Brown) who puts a down-payment on a motorbike with the idea of...

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